Malala Yousafzai – a teenage girl from the militant-infested district of Swat, Khyber Pakhtukhaw, Pakistan – is not just another victim of Taliban aggression; she is an icon, a symbol of courage that has shown the world what true power really means.
Shot at point-blank range by armed gunmen in her native town in Swat while she was returning from school on October 8, 2012, Malala’s survival was no less than a miracle. The bullet meant to kill her failed to do its job – seize her life. The military deployed in the area immediately came into action after she was shot and she was rushed to a military hospital, millions in and outside the country praying for her life. There was also a lot of disappointment and anger at the failure of the military to protect civilians in Swat. Laiba Yousafzai, a journalist, questioned the efficiency of the military in her column in the Urdu daily Aeen (October 12) while the suspicion that it was a planned incident by the state to create an excuse of the much-demanded military operation in North Waziristan also hit media sources.
Whatever the reason and whoever the real culprit, Malala defeated death face to face. It was the devil versus the divine spirit; the devil holding the gun and the pure spirit holding onto to life. The will of God won and the devil was defeated. Malala’s faith in her spirit of freedom from oppression and cruelty was so strong that death had to return empty-handed. The Pashtun nation, torn by decades of exploitation and intrusions by anti-Pashtun elements, once again saw a new force rising from its land and defying the dark agents of terror. And this time, it was a child whose voice echoed in the force of humanism worldwide. Now, celebrities adore her; superstars worship her; and world leaders bow to her magnanimity.
Today, the world knows Malala as the bravest soldier on the face of this planet. Still recovering in the United Kingdom from her physical wounds, she has no gun but her voice makes terrorists shudder; she is not trained in combat, yet the most dangerous militants fear her down to their core. What exactly is it in this child that has made her the nightmare of anti-human elements? It is none else than her faith – her true and pure faith in the right and the holy that keeps her above all foes. She speaks for the right to education, the right to safety, the right to speak the truth. This faith has placed Malala on top of all those who pretend to have faith but in reality have only the fake version of it. The bible said it so perfectly: “And a child will lead.” Indeed!